Where there is shadow there is also light.
There is no doubt in my mind that 2018 has been something of an annus horribilis during which my family has watched the demise of my wonderful father and done our best to relieve the strain on my mother while spending as much time as possible with Pa.
It has been a difficult time. A trying time. And yet…
Never have I known such love.
They say it is only in a crisis that real friendship becomes clear. And boy, oh boy, have I been shocked – in a good way.
Amazingly, wonderfully, I have received real phone calls! I have received letters and cards. People have invited me for coffee, for lunch, for a day out in the sunshine, just for a hug, for an opportunity to cry.
People have asked me, and still do, how I am and how my mother is coping.
Immediate family has been generous with time, love and strong gin and I honestly believe I have never been so blessed.
Like a lotus flower on a lake, my grief is constantly held, carried and buoyed by a body not of water but of love. Love has been outpouring and still, six weeks after his passing, the cards land on my doormat. Still, the messages and calls come. And I am reminded of how far we have travelled and how many friends we have made, not mere acquaintances, but proper friends, who care enough to reach out when, honestly, they didn’t have to. Friends from school days, uni, Norway, Dubai, Oman, Malaysia and the Netherlands. Friends of all ages, from all over the world.
Who knew that people still had it in them? Today many no longer send birthday cards and instead spend a few seconds putting a message on a Facebook wall, a time when many send digital Christmas cards or round robin letters, or sponsor a goat instead of writing, stamping and posting a hundred cards. With people our age, it is reported, spending three hours a day on social media there are no hours left for getting out a pen and writing a personal note, making the effort to buy a stamp and post a letter, for picking up the phone or sending a glorious bouquet of flowers. But you did. You do. And yes I have noticed and yes, oh yes, I am grateful.
We did not have a funeral. Instead we wanted a celebration of his life and a church service of thanksgiving that was filled with laughs not tears. Black clothes were banned, Ian played Grappelli on his violin because Pa loved jazz. Joshua’s eulogy placed us all firmly in the mind of an eleven-year-old boy, filled with wonder at a sky swarming with Lancaster bombers heading over the English Channel. Here was a boy who thought war was thrilling.
Yes, it has been a ‘merry hell’; bitter sweet.
Parting is sweet sorrow but there is sunshine after rain and that love is all around.